Last Month at the NETMundial meeting in Brazil, representatives from governments, private sector, civil society, the technical community and academia met to debate the key principles on which the Internet should evolve.
The meeting culminated in a non-binding, consensus-based outcome statement supporting the principles of a decentralized and multistakeholder (ie: non-governmental) driven Internet ecosystem, committed to principles of openness, fairness, accessibility, security and safety.
According to the Statement, evolution of the Internet Government ecosystem shall be based upon the following principles:
Multistakeholder: Internet governance should be built on democratic, multistakeholder processes, ensuring the meaningful and accountable participation of all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society, the technical community, the academic community and users. The respective roles and responsibilities of stakeholders should be interpreted in a flexible manner with reference to the issue under discussion.
Open, participative, consensus driven governance: The development of international Internet-related public policies and Internet governance arrangements should enable the full and balanced participation of all stakeholders from around the globe, and made by consensus, to the extent possible.
Transparent: Decisions made must be easy to understand, processes must be clearly documented and follow agreed procedures, and procedures must be developed and agreed upon through multistakeholder processes.
Accountable: Mechanisms for independent checks and balances as well as for review and redress should exist. Governments have primary, legal and political accountability for the protection of human rights.
Inclusive and equitable: Internet governance institutions and processes should be inclusive and open to all interested stakeholders. Processes, including decision making, should be bottom-up, enabling the full involvement of all stakeholders, in a way that does not disadvantage any category of stakeholder.
Distributed: Internet Governance should be carried out through a distributed, decentralized and multistakeholder ecosystem.
Collaborative: Internet governance should be based on and encourage collaborative and cooperative approaches that reflect the inputs and interests of stakeholders.
Enabling meaningful participation: Anyone affected by an Internet governance process should be able to participate in that process. Particularly, Internet governance institutions and processes should support capacity building for newcomers, especially stakeholders from developing countries and underrepresented groups.
Given these guiding principles, business participants generally welcomed the broad outcomes of the NETMunidal meeting. However, some have noted that there is still a need to carefully define ‘Multistakeholder’ so that the interests of business are more fully recognized. Others have also raised concerns that the guiding principles of openness and non-restrictive use of the Internet could be used to used to circumvent consumer protection, intellectual property rights, data protection and privacy.